Asian Markets Trading Mixed

Asian stock markets are trading mixed on Wednesday, following the broadly negative cues from Wall Street overnight, dragged by weakness in materials and energy stocks on potential drop in demand amid concerns about the emergence of a new, more infectious COVID-19 strain in several parts of the world. The surge in COVID-19 infections in China also hurt market sentiment as it reignited worries about potential lockdowns. Asian Markets closed mostly lower on Tuesday.

Many cities in China are already taking steps to stop the spread of the new strain, leading to worries about another round of painful lockdowns, especially in Shanghai or Beijing. This could put further pressure on a global economy that is already being squeezed by aggressive monetary policy tightening by the world’s central banks.

Traders also looked ahead to the US Labor Department’s report later in the day on consumer price inflation in the month of June, which could impact the outlook for interest rates. Investors also braced for a big week of data and earnings for directional cues.

The Australian stock market is relatively flat with a negative bias in a choppy session on Wednesday alternating between the red and the green, after the losses in the previous trading two sessions, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 staying above the 6,600 level, following the negative cues from Wall Street overnight, as gains in gold miners and technology stocks were nearly offset by weakness in materials and energy stocks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 0.90 points or 0.01 percent to 6,607.20, after hitting a low of 6,584.10 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 6.00 points or 0.09 percent to 6,792.80. Australian stocks ended slightly lower on Tuesday.

Among major miners, Rio Tinto and OZ Minerals are losing more than 1 percent each, while BHP Group and Fortescue Metals are down almost 2 percent each. Mineral Resources is slipping more than 2 percent.

Oil stocks are lower. Beach energy and Woodside Energy are losing almost 3 percent each, while Origin Energy is down more than 1 percent and Santos is declining more than 2 percent.

In the tech space, Afterpay owner Block is gaining almost 4 percent and Appen is adding 2.5 percent, while WiseTech Global and Xero are advancing more than 1 percent each. Zip is losing almost 3 percent.

Among the big four banks, National Australia Bank and Commonwealth Bank are edging up 0.2 percent each, while ANZ Banking is edging down 0.5 percent. Westpac is flat.

Among gold miners, Gold Road Resources is gaining almost 3 percent, Resolute Mining is adding almost 1 percent and Northern Star Resources is edging up 0.3 percent, while Newcrest Mining is slipping almost 1 percent. Evolution Mining is flat.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.677 on Wednesday.

The Japanese stock market is modestly higher on Wednesday, recouping some of the loss in the previous four sessions, with the Nikkei 225 moving above the 26,400 level, despite the broadly negative cues from Wall Street overnight, boosted by technology and financial stocks. Meanwhile, traders are concerned about the rising domestic cases of COVID-19 amid the seventh wave of infections.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 26,423.11, up 86.45 points or 0.33 percent, after touching a high of 26,543.07 earlier. Japanese stocks closed sharply lower on Tuesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is gaining 1.5 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is adding almost 1 percent. Among automakers, Honda is gaining almost 3 percent and Toyota is adding almost 1 percent.

In the tech space, Screen Holdings and Advantest are gaining almost 1 percent each, while Tokyo Electron is adding more than 1 percent.

In the banking sector, Mizuho Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial are gaining almost 1 percent each, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is edging up 0.2 percent.

Among the major exporters, Sony and Panasonic are edging down 0.2 percent each, while Canon is losing almost 1 percent. Mitsubishi Electric is edging up 0.1 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Toho is surging almost 8 percent and Recruit Holdings is gaining almost 4 percent.

Conversely, JGC Holdings and Tokio Marine are gaining more than 3 percent each.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the 137 yen-range on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Taiwan is up 2.6 percent, while New Zealand, Hong Kong and South Korea are higher by between 0.5 and 0.8 percent each. Singapore Malaysia and Indonesia are lower by between 0.3 and 0.6 percent each. China is relatively flat.

On Wall Street, stocks showed a lack of direction for much of the session on Tuesday before coming under considerable pressure in late-day trading. With the downward move on the day, the major averages added to the notable losses posted on Monday.

The major averages climbed off their worst levels going into the close but remained firmly negative. The Dow fell 192.51 points or 0.6 percent to 30,981.33, the Nasdaq slumped 107.87 points or 1 percent to 11,264.73 and the S&P 500 slid 35.63 points or 0.9 percent to 3,818.80.

Meanwhile, the major European markets turned positive over the course of the session. While the French CAC 40 Index advanced by 0.8 percent, the German DAX Index climbed by 0.6 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index edged up by 0.2 percent.

Crude oil prices plummeted on Tuesday on concerns about the outlook for global demand due to recession fears and a renewed spike in Covid-19 cases. West Texas Intermediate for August delivery shed $8.25 or 7.9 percent to $95.84 a barrel, closing below $100 a barrel for the first time in two months.

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